1917 Story: Two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), are given an impossible task during World War I.
1917 Review: 1600 British soldiers in two battalions are being steered into a trap set by the Germans in World War I. Their only hope is a pair of British soldiers assigned the impossible mission to deliver a warning about this impending disaster. To raise the stakes even higher, one of the soldiers, Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) has his older brother in the 2nd Devon – the first battalion scheduled to charge the Germans the next morning. Fueled by his personal agenda, Blake takes Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) along on this harrowing journey across no man’s land into enemy territory.
Brilliantly shot and edited to appear as a single take, every camera movement is intelligent and serves a purpose as the mission unfolds, because the edits are camouflaged behind them, combined with precise blocking. But well beyond the ingenuity of the one-take shot, the story keeps you on the edge of your seat. This is reflected in the performances as well, with both leads swapping the narrative focus from each other in meticulously planned storytelling beats. The performances of the two young leads Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay are engaging, as facets of their otherwise ordinary personalities come through. The mission is the key focus as the two soldiers make their way through increasingly dangerous situations. Along the way, they encounter key army personnel, played by a cameo row of British actors, including Andrew Scott, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Richard Madden who put in brief, but impressive performances.
The cinematography by Roger Deakins is mesmerising, choreographed and executed to perfection around the horrific elements of war. Some of the frames are visually breathtaking, and demand to be revisited to absorb everything they have to offer. Thomas Newman’s score escalates the experience to soaring heights. This film could easily sweep up all the technical awards at the Oscars this year. All these factors firmly put director Sam Mendes in the upper echelon of directors currently working today, if he wasn’t there already. ‘1917’ is tense, captivating, meticulous, horrifying and stirring – an exceptional achievement in filmmaking.
Source: The Times of India